If you enjoy this article, please consider supporting my art at FlyingPig Farm. I am currently running a promotion where I select a piece to be 30% off each week. Currently, it’s the White-crowned Sparrow.
I am currently studying Background and Shadows in an online course with Birgit O’Connor. While reading the section on preparing reference photos, I discovered I have a tool I didn’t know about.
Occasionally you might want to extract a subject from one of your photos to use it in a new composition. It can be difficult to select only that object, especially if the edges are complex. You’d like to separate a subject from its background, but you don’t want anything else in the image. This is often referred to in Photoshop as Making a Selection.
I didn’t realize I had a Magnetic Lasso tool because it sits below the Lasso Tool by default. The Lasso Tool allows you to draw a freehand selection around an object which can be difficult.
The Magnetic Lasso Tool helps you detect the edges of an object by automatically clinging to them. It works especially well where there is a lot of contrast between your subject and the background. You can adjust the Edge Contrast and Frequency of anchor points to improve the selection.
My image shows a rose from my garden and a selection I did in less than a minute with the Magnetic Lasso. It’s not perfect, but it’s a great starting point. This was much easier to do than trying to drag the regular Lasso around all the edges myself.
This tool is also available in Photoshop Elements. If you’d like to try it, I recommend searching for Magnetic Lasso online and following one of the many tutorials available. You can also access the relevant Photoshop help files by clicking on the question mark in the tool bin.